My first week in Research Computing

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Although I am not new to the University (having previously been in Biosciences), I have recently moved into the very different area of IT Services. Instead of being the researcher, I will now be advising them and promoting specialist computing services. I have been impressed so far by the facilities available in the building; a shiny new laptop being available on my first day, filtered water coolers and fridges where you can leave milk and it doesn’t go missing!

My work so far has been very varied. My role is ‘Research Data Management Specialist’ and I have been spending the last week meeting other members of the Research Computing team who provide and manage the various high performance computing facilities that are available for the researchers. The Research Data Store (RDS) and Research Data Archive (RDA) are an excellent resource which would have saved me a great deal of laborious backing up onto DVDs and then storing in two different locations for security. The RDS and RDA are both stored in two different data centres and backed up onto tape. The BEAR (Birmingham Environment for Academic Research) Datashare service is ideal for using when collobarating with researchers in different institutions and countries. Working similarly to Dropbox it is very simple to use but allows sharing of data without having to use external services which are not necessarily approved by the University. See for more information on the services we provide.

I have also been going out on visits to various parts of the University to meet with researchers and discuss their needs and how we can provide specialist computing services for them. It has been very interesting learning about the different research going on at the University. I had not realised quite how far the University covered with walks to the Dental School and around reminding me that I need to get some more comfortable shoes, anyone with any recommendations please comment below!

There have also been meetings with staff from the Library and Research Planning as there is a lot of collaboration between areas working on open data and data management. We are holding Research Data drop-in’s on Thursday lunchtimes (click here for dates), where you can come and ask about the BEAR services we provide and get help with research data management planning. I will also be helping out at ‘Raising your research profile’ events (next one on 8th June), a session run by Library Services that would have been very useful to me as a researcher as it covers open access, copyright, bibliometrics and more (click here for more information).

Arranging training for using BEAR services is also part of my role and we now have upcoming courses on ‘Introduction to Linux’ and ‘BEAR Necessities’, please see our website to book onto our June courses.

So it has been a busy but very interesting and varied first week at work. I look forward to learning more about Research Data Management and have already booked a conference to attend in June entitled ‘Research Data Network’ which is run by JISC. I hope to find out how other Universities are managing their research data and report back.